The Kanban System for Software Development

Developing software is a complex process. It is important to have a flexible system in place to manage the work flow. In today’s face-paced environment, technology is evolving rapidly. The software design process must be able to keep up with these developments. The Kanban system is designed to allow this to happen. This system was developed at Toyota manufacturing plants in the 1940’s so that the production process would run more efficiently and use less resources. Today the Kanban system has been adopted by software developers to manage the work flow of development projects. The flexibility of the system allows developers to respond quickly to the changing marketplace. Specialised kanban software tools are available online to manage electronic dashboards.

What Is Kanban?

The first principle of the Kanban system is to visualize everything. The system revolves around a board where the tasks that need to be accomplished are posted. The board is divided into three regions. The backlog is where all the tasks start. The work in progress area is where all the active tasks are placed. A third area is for completed tasks. By dividing up all the work that needs to be done into discrete tasks and placing those tasks on the board, the system allows everyone to see how the project is moving along. The second key principle is that work in progress should be limited. Team members may only work on a specific number of tasks at a time. Tasks cannot be moved from the backlog until an active task is completed. This allows workers to focus on just a few tasks and finish those efficiently before starting new tasks. If a particular task is taking a long time, idle workers can assist in getting it done so that they can begin new tasks.

Is Kanban a Methodology?

Kanban is a process management tool. It is a set of principles that governs the way work is managed. It does not tell developers what work needs to be done. It is not a methodology that informs workers what they need to get done and how they need to do it. Instead, it is a system that allows the work to proceed along the most efficient path.

How Is KanBan Different from Scrum?

Scrum is another project management system designed for efficient resource allocation and flexibility. The product that needs to be developed is broken down into a set of independent parts. The team decides which elements they are going to complete in a fixed period of time. This fixed period is usually two weeks to one month and is called a sprint. When the sprint is complete, the team sits down plans for another sprint. This process is repeated until the product is complete or the deadline is reached.

This is very similar to Kanban because both systems are designed to allow a team to respond quickly to evolving circumstances. The goal is to keep the team agile and flexible by working on a few things at a time rather than everything all at once. However, there are also a number of differences. Scrum is a more complex system with a number of predefined roles and set meetings. There are a number of required rules that need to be followed. Kanban has just two key principles. Scrum has fixed time iterations and a fixed tasks to be accomplished in those iterations. Kanban does not have any fixed iteration. Tasks can become active in any order.

Benefits of Kanban for Software Projects

These features make Kanban especially useful for software projects. Because it does not have fixed iteration periods with specific task commitments, Kanban can accommodate projects with shifting work flows. Since software projects tend to go through phases, Kanban is ideal for resource allocation. The team can focus on coding, quality testing or debugging as needed. Because all the tasks are visible to the entire team, resources can quickly be shifted to areas where bottlenecks occur. This keeps the work flowing at an even pace. Kanban is extremely useful in support or operations settings where the work flow is very unpredictable. These benefits account for the growing popularity of this system among those who manage software projects.